St. Louis scores hat trick as Canada blanks Hungary 9-0
By the time Team Canada needed a second hand to count the goals it scored against Hungary, the players toned down their celebrations. No more raising the stick in the air when a muted tap of the gloves would suffice.
"There is no reason to embarrass anybody," forward Martin St. Louis said after Canada's 9-0 win over the Hungarians at the world men's hockey championship on Sunday in Kloten, Switzerland. "We knew we were winning the game and we just wanted to finish it the right way."
The last time these teams met at the world championship was 1938, and that game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Seven decades later, it was the type of mismatch you get when a powerhouse team plays a hockey minnow that didn't have as many faceoffs in the Canadian end all night as the winners had goals.
"We got on them pretty fast and they did not have much time to make plays," St. Louis said.
Not that it would have mattered.
Thirteen Canadians found their way onto the score sheet. St. Louis had three goals and an assist. Shea Weber scored twice, while Derek Roy, James Neal, Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza also scored.
Coach Lindy Ruff let up a little, throwing defenceman Ian White up front on a couple of power plays. Ruff also gave power-play time to his third and fourth lines.
Goalie Chris Mason stopped 13 shots in his international debut for Canada. Mason was Canada's third-string goalie in two previous tournaments and admitted he was nervous before playing the massive underdogs from Hungary, a country making its return to the world tourney's elite A pool for the first time in 70 years.
"It was pretty emotional and probably one of the biggest honours of my life, wearing this jersey on the ice," goalie Mason said.
Hungarian goalie Levente Szuper wanted desperately to have a good game, to keep his team in it as long as he could and maybe catch the eye of an NHL scout or two. But there is only so much he could do as the Canadians came on wave after wave after wave.
"It was like a very good goalie practice,"’ said Szuper, who played major junior with the Ottawa 67s and spent time in the Calgary Flames organization. "But you are a goalie and you do not want to give up goals. God, it is killing me."
The lopsided score didn’t stop the throngs of Hungarian fans from singing and dancing through the game in support of their homeland's hockey heroes. Some of the fans were dressed in housecoats in the national colours of their country. Hungary won Olympic gold in water polo at last summer's Beijing Olympics and the housecoats pay tribute to that success.
Long after the game ended, the fans remained in the stands singing and dancing, and their boisterous effort was something the Canadian players were impressed with.
"It is pretty amazing. It was pretty neat," Mason said.
"I love the fans in Nashville to death, but this is different. This is something special," Weber said.
Canada looking to avoid bad habits
Canada went in to the game with the mindset that it didn’t want to develop any bad habits that could come back to haunt it later on in the 16-team competition.
It's hard to imagine how the team would measure its success, given the territorial advantage it enjoyed.
"We did not want to make mistakes that lead to bad habits," Weber said. "That was the biggest thing."
Hungary, meanwhile, was pleased that Canada did not let up.
"Hats off to them. They are the best team in the world and they never let up the whole game," Szuper said. "That was a really big thing, too. Usually you do not see that, when a team leads 3-0 or 4-0, that they slow down.
"The Canadians never did and that was something to admire, that they stayed humble the full 60 minutes. Even at the end, they played like it was the first minute, 0-0, and we can learn from this experience. We tried our best."
When the players lined up after the game to shake hands, Canadian captain Shayne Doan paused when he met up with his counterpart, Balazs Kangyal. The Hungarian said Doan offered him support given how his team was dealing with the sudden death in March of Gábor Ocskay, who appeared in 187 national team games for Hungary.
"It was a special situation," Kangyal said. "We had a player die before the tournament. He was my best friend and the best player ever in Hungary. His dream was to go to the A Pool. I felt he was here with us tonight.
"The big NHL player, Shayne Doan, just said to me, 'Good game, boys.' This is one of the most important things in my life."
The other games played on Sunday were much closer, requiring extra time. Switzerland edged Germany 3-2 in overtime and Belarus beat Slovakia 2-1 in a shootout.